Application deadline is March 24, 2017

California Wine Grape Growers Foundation Awards $25,000 in Scholarship Help

Posted by on May 22, 2014

The California Wine Grape Growers Foundation (CWGGF) has awarded seven high school seniors $25,000 in college scholarships. Through generous donations and participation by members of the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG), the foundation is able to award scholarships each year to students whose parents are vineyard employees of winegrape growers. CWGGF scholarship assistance provides two $8,000, four-year scholarships to any campus in the UC or California State University (CSU) system, four $2,000, two-year scholarships for any California Community college, and one $1,000 Robert N. Miller Scholarship. The Robert N. Miller Scholarship is awarded exclusively to Central Coast students who plan to major in or are currently enrolled in viticulture and enology programs at Alan Hancock Community College or California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly).

“It’s gratifying to help high school students each year achieve their career goals with our foundation’s scholarship program,” said JR Shannon, CWGGF’s chairman. “Our vineyard employees are valued members of our winegrape grower family, and supporting their children’s dream of a college education is what families do.”

Scholarship selection is based on financial need, scholastic ability, community involvement, leadership, and a 500-word essay. This year’s scholarship winners represent California’s diverse winegrape growing regions, from the North Coast to the Central Valley to the Central Coast. Since its inception in 1998, the foundation program has awarded $301,000 in scholarships.

CWGGF also manages the Robert “Bob” Miller scholarship, which helps students in the Central Coast who want to remain there and develop a career in viticulture and enology. Bob Miller was a leader in the state’s wine community who helped to establish the Central Coast as a leading winegrowing region of California. Bob’s family created this scholarship “of up to $1,000” to honor his memory.

This year’s California Wine Grape Growers Foundation scholarship awards are as follows:

Four-year Scholarship Recipients ($8,000 each)
Marisol Diaz-Cervantes, Pioneer Valley High School, Santa Maria
Faviola Zamudio-Diaz, Santa Maria High School, Santa Maria

Two-year Scholarship Recipients ($2,000 each)
Juan Alonso, Napa High School, Napa
Jessica Maldonado, Santa Maria High School, Santa Maria
Celeste Ramos Navarrete, Harmony Magnet Academy, Porterville
Maria Vega, Hanford High School, Hanford

Robert Miller Scholarship ($1,000)
Madison White, Adolfo Camarillo High School, Santa Barbara

As part of the scholarship application, students are required to submit a two-page essay (approximately 500 words) describing themselves and their career goals. Below are short summaries from those essays.

Juan Alonso, Napa High School, Napa
Juan was born in Mexico in a town with limited water and electricity. Lack of work forced his father to find employment in the U.S. and support his family back home. Juan says, “My life completely changed the moment me and my mom were able to come to the United States.” Juan says the scholarship is giving him the opportunity to attend college and succeed in life. Juan plans to attend UC Davis or Napa Valley College and major in viticulture and enology.

Marisol Diaz-Cervantes, Pioneer Valley High School, Santa Maria
Marisol says it has been her faith and hope that have helped her persevere in high school and overcome many economic struggles. Marisol plans to major in either engineering or mathematics and use her education to “establish new schools and churches around the world.”

Jessica Maldonado, Santa Maria High School, Santa Maria
Jessica and her family immigrated to the U.S from San Martin Oaxaca, Mexico. Her parents worked in California’s agriculture fields to support Jessica and her sister’s education. Jessica remembers caring for her father’s work injuries, which helped foster her interest in nursing. Jessica says, “Being able to care for [my dad] who always cared for me, made me feel happy and I knew that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.” Jessica plans to attend Alan Hancock College or CSU Channel Islands.

Celeste Ramos Navarrete, Harmony Magnet Academy, Porterville
Celeste says her parents came to America for a better future and that’s what motivates her desire for a college education. Celeste enjoys sports “soccer and track” and has learned leadership skills from her active participation in these activities. She plans to attend college and become a nurse practitioner. Celeste says, “Helping people feel better is my passion, putting a smile on someone’s face makes me feel good inside. I think the medical field will be a great place for me.”

Maria Vega, Hanford High School, Hanford
Maria came to America at age 14 in order to learn English. While she lived with her dad, and missed her mom in Mexico, Maria worked hard in high school to make her parents proud. Maria says she was “fearful and nervous” going to a different school and learning a completely new language, but teachers and friends helped her through the difficult times. Maria wants to attend college and study anthropology. Maria says, “I want to help my community and demonstrate that I’m capable of making a change.”

Madison White, Adolfo Camarillo High School, Santa Barbara
In her scholarship essay, Madison states that she comes from a long line of “broken people affected by divorce, alcoholism, drugs, and gambling.” However, she proudly says that she and a new generation of cousins, brothers and sisters have made the first steps to break away from this family legacy. Madison is very enthusiastic about a career in wine and viticulture because she has a “passion for plant science and all things that grow under the sun.” Wherever Maria ends up, she plans to serve others and give back to the community.

Faviola Zamudio-Diaz, Santa Maria High School, Santa Maria
Faviola describes her world as “a place where people judge and assume things about others based on appearance and actions.” This world includes a cousin who was diagnosed with autism and ADHD and, as a result, was misunderstood and ill-treated. Faviola has taken on a “big sister” role with her cousin which has motivated her to choose psychology as a career. Her cousin’s condition made Faviola realize “people surrounding us can be unfair and unjust.” As a psychologist, Faviola says she will be able to “fight for justice and be the person people confide in when they are in need of help.”

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